Madrid Derby: Atletico Are Live Dogs Against Real
As far as the Madrid Derby (kick-off 10:15 a.m. ET Sunday) is concerned, the midweek results from both sides should mean that the spectacle isn’t marred by the distraction of European second legs.
Both picked up impressive home wins, crucially without conceding away goals, so they can focus on what is still a meaningful game with regards to local bragging rights beyond the 90 minutes. Atletico, after all, sit four points above their illustrious rivals, while Real Madrid could risk slipping out of the top three should they fail to earn all three points.
With that in mind, the onus is on the Real, playing at home, to go all out for the victory, which may well suit their visitors this Sunday. Atletico manager Diego Simeone is a master at setting up his side to be hard to beat and has frustrated the hosts at the Bernabeu on a number of occasions in recent years.
The two teams head into the game with some defensive concerns, with Real missing Nacho through injury, which will mean Raphael Varane — not at full fitness himself — will need to be fast tracked back into the side. Atletico, meanwhile, are likely to be without Jose Gimenez at the heart of their defense, while first choice fullbacks Filipe Luis (out) and Sime Vrsaljko (doubtful) may both miss out too.
While such absences may point toward this being a game for the forwards, neither coach will want to risk further injuries and may set up with a solid base from the middle of the park, relying on the individual brilliance of their star forwards to make the difference.
Cristiano Ronaldo is in outrageous individual form, scoring in each of his last 10 appearances for Real Madrid, so a price of 1.97 (-104) from Unibet on the Portuguese to score anytime looks like incredible value. He tends to run hot and cold against Atleti, though, scoring in just two of his past 11 appearances, but netting hat-tricks on each of those occasions. However, he’s particularly hot right not and it’s tough to see any defense holding the 33-year-old down right now.
However, there may be even better value at the opposite end, with Antoine Griezmann arguably a more consistent threat when these sides come to blows. The Frenchman has scored on his past two league trips to the Bernabeu, and has found the net in the past five seasons against Real Madrid, starting with Real Sociedad before moving to Los Blancos’ local rivals. Having failed to score in the stalemate between the two earlier in the campaign, he’ll be looking to extend that impressive record this weekend.
Moreover, the 27-year-old has been in fine form himself, failing to score in just four of his past 15 appearances with Atleti, and with eight goals in his past seven outings away from home, a price of 3.45 (+245) — again with Unibet — on Griezmann to find the net is another very tempting angle.
One certainly wouldn’t bet against both of the men in the spotlight to register on the scoresheet, and in turn there’s every chance that these two sides could cancel each other out. Real Madrid are understandably the favorites at home, but with a points advantage to cling onto, Atletico will provide a formidable test for the home side to overcome.
Simeone’s side have avoided defeat in seven of their last eight away matches against Zinedine Zidane’s men in domestic competitions, and Real Madrid will still have a trip to Turin in Wednesday in their minds. The host’s chances of retaining the league title this season are close to nil compared to the opportunity for an historic third Champions League title in succession. As a result, my tip is on the Atletico Madrid double chance market (to win or draw), with Unibet yet again offering the best odds at 2.20 (+120).
All odds current as of Friday evening.